Amy Culver - The Queen of Lean
December 16, 2009    

Holiday parties

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Holiday parties

Well, here we are again, smack in the middle of the holidays and Christmas is nearly upon us.  Parties and other temptations are calling from every nook and cranny.

How are you doing?  Are you navigating it well or are you sinking into the abyss of butter and sugar?

You know, we've still got several weeks to go before it's all over, right?

If you are staying afloat, the following tips can help to keep you there.  If you're barely above water, let's see if we can get you more stabilized.  And if you feel that you are drowning in it all, don't despair, please.  You can limit the damage going forward.

Holiday parties can present some of the most difficult hurdles.  There's an atmosphere of celebration with bits and bites of all kinds of wonderful temptations to eat and drink. 

There are two schools of thought here:  one says to not eat that whole day and then have whatever you want at the party, the other says that you eat well that day and don't go hungry.

Consider the actual numbers.  Most of us burn around 2,000 to 2,500 calories per day.  So, even if you ate 0 calories before a party, you could consume that amount within 15 minutes of walking in the door:

2 handfuls of mixed nuts:  900 calories
2 cups of  Eggnog:  800 calories

There's 1700 calories right there, without even thinking about it.

But what if you don't walk in hungry, spend some time meeting and greeting and start off with a glass of water, or a diet soda?  Then, once you've gotten settled into the atmosphere, you can make some intelligent, informed decisions.

Here is a sample plan for navigating any party.

Eat throughout the day, but go light.  Have a smaller than usual breakfast (half a banana and some oatmeal) and lunch (half a sandwich and some veggies).  Drink only water and go for watery veggies rather than fruit.  Just before you leave, have a healthy snack such as a cup of vegetable soup with 2 oz of chicken, or cottage cheese with tomatoes and one slice of whole wheat toast.

When you get to the party, assess the food situation.  Always prioritize.  Don't ever waste calories on anything you don't really want.  If there are a lot of choices, limit yourself to one serving of each, or better yet, share.  My husband and I will go around a buffet-style table and each fill one plate.  We work it together so that we can each share from the other's plate and get lots of different tastes with fewer calories.  This works especially well if things are pre-portioned (such as cookies or brownies).

If you are really concerned about not overdoing it, skip the alcohol.  Volunteer to be the designated driver so that you won't even be tempted.  Alcohol makes you hungry and significantly lowers your resistance to all the goodies.  It carries its own caloric punch as well.  You'll get much more satisfaction from eating your calories rather than drinking them.

If you are going to imbibe, try adding some seltzer water or diet lemon-lime soda to your wine and make it a spritzer.  Mixed drinks are full of sugar, so it's best to avoid them. 

If it's a long party, make sure you spread out your trips to the food table.  Don't eat if you're not hungry.  Consider having a small plate of food every 60 – 90 minutes.  Go ahead and time yourself.  You might just find that 2 or more hours will pass if you are having a good time.

Focus on the people, not the food.  That's the real reason you are there, right?  Enjoy yourself and make fond memories, not regrets.

Merry Christmas everyone!


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